Review of In the City

In the City
by Chris Raschka; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Jackson/Atheneum    40 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-4814-8627-9    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-8628-6    $10.99

In this inquisitive and celebratory story, Raschka explores the enigmatic nature of fledgling friendships, reflecting on how friends find each other. In separate spaces in a bustling city, two girls — one with brown skin, one with white — crane their necks to look up at the sky, marveling at pigeons soaring in the air. The birds land, and the girls, now sitting on opposite ends of the same park bench, observe them. In three pigeon-centric spreads, the children see the birds as the distinct creatures they are (“Now we see them one for one”), noticing in particular their varied coloring, and the girls forge a friendship on the spot. The vivid text — the birds fly in “tumbling flocks,” live in “airy houses,” and have “rainbow-tinted flecks” of color flashing on their necks — is primarily presented in lively rhyming couplets. “How do two friends find each other? / Why choose this one, not another?” Raschka pauses occasionally to riff on pigeon sounds with their own couplets: “loo loo, loo loo / coo coo, coo coo.” The brightly colored palette is splendid, with delicate yellow, blue, and green washes in the sky, and Raschka captures the birds’ movement with eloquence. A joyful tribute to city life, the art of noticing, and the thrill of budding friendships.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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